Time flies, as Frank Lampard says, and he’s quite right. While it still feels like he’s just returned as manager to the club where he’s one of the most beloved legends of all time (if not the most), he’s actually been here for almost a season and a half — longer than most in the Abramovich Era. Only José Mourinho (twice), Carlo Ancelotti, and Antonio Conte had longer tenures, and if Lampard gets a third season (which certainly seems quite likely), only Mourinho will remain on that list.
Obviously, the circumstances have been rather unique, from a transfer ban to a pandemic, but Lampard’s Chelsea project is far from done. He may be halfway through the three-year contract he signed in 2019, but we’re just getting started — in just about every sense of that word as it pertains to (re-)building the team and molding the next generation of winners and champions.
“In terms of my contract, time seems to have flown by and I’ve got 18 months left. [...] I felt like I took the job in a different position to most recent Chelsea managers. I think people sympathise with that as well. Now, I feel like I would love to be part of the long-term plan here.
“The signings we made in the summer, other than probably Thiago [Silva] particularly, were signings for now and the future, players that are going to progress and who will mature, and, of course, I would love to be part of that.
“Of course, that’s the club’s decision and the owner’s decision first and foremost, so I have to get on with the short term which starts with Leeds tomorrow. But I don’t think anybody would expect me to say anything else.”
While it’s true that no Chelsea manager has advocated for anything other than a long and successful tenure and project at the club, despite Abramovich’s famous itchy trigger finger, when Lampard says it, it just feels a bit more real and a bit more heartfelt, and more importantly, a bit more realistic possibility.
However, at the end of the day, football at this level isn’t about good feels and comfortable tales, especially at Chelsea. It’s about results, and winning, and trophies. Lampard, as our all-time leading goalscorer, serial trophy-winner, and captain on some of our biggest nights including May 19, 2012, will be the first (and has been the first) to admit and advocate that.
“I said before I would love to do this job as long as possible but I’m also very aware it will be based on results. At the minute, I think we’re working towards something and people are getting very excited and mentioning us being in a title race this year.
“I always saw it as a longer plan than that and it might take until next year for us to really challenge, because of the signings, because of the bedding-in process. What we’re doing at the moment, it’s really getting people excited, but I know we need to be consistent throughout the season.”
As with Lampard’s intentions, talk of a “long-term” project also seems to be carrying more weight in the last 18 months, with signings to match and paradigms shifting accordingly.
Last season we had a full blown Youth Revolution™ to pay off a decade and a half of academy investment; this season we’ve added some of Europe’s cream of the crop. In the meantime, we’ve built a coaching and backroom staff full of Chelsea heroes and legends, with Petr Čech especially seen as a crucial component as the new Technical
Director Advisor learning on the job.
By our powers combined, and continued excellence in execution, we just might achieve our ultimate aims.
“Since I came in here, the relationship I have with Petr Cech has been a huge strength for me. I get on so well with him and, hopefully, we work well together. The communication I have with Marina [Granovskaia] is very regular.”
As ever, things need to happen one step, one game at a time. Lampard’s first 18 months have been most enjoyable, even if we did go trophy-less last season.
Here’s to the next 18 months, and many more after.
“I’m a lucky man to be managing the club that I love and is my life. So, of course, I want to make a success of it and be here as long as I can.”
“[But] I’m genuinely not thinking too much about my future. I’m just thinking about the game-to-game at the minute. I guess the future will look after itself either way after that.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
So say we all.